PhilHealth recently received backlash from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) after they released an announcement that OFWs will have to pay for the mandatory PhilHealth premium before they are allowed to exit the Philippines. President Duterte didn’t like the idea of making OFWs pay for more fees especially in this time of the pandemic. He did not allow this mandatory payment, thus, PhilHealth was left without a choice but to retract their previous announcement.

In a statement, PhilHealth expressed their concern on OFWs saying that they ‘fully understand the sentiments of Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) about the increase in the PhilHealth premium.

“We have explored several possibilities to cushion the impact of the increase through flexible payment terms that are embodied in the recently published circular. The increased premium rates from 2.75 percent to 3 percent in 2020 are under specific provisions of Republic Act 11223 otherwise known as the Universal Health Care Act of 2019,” says PhilHealth in their announcement.

They also explained that the purpose of the Universal Health Care Act is to provide healthcare to all Filipinos that are affordable and adequate.

“Such a program requires funding, collected through premium contributions. In 2019, 44 percent of the premiums were subsidized by the national government while the balance was collected from individual members and their employers, where OFWs are counted. Benefits-wise, 36 percent of beneficiaries were from the informal and private sector while 37 percent were accounted for from the indigents and senior citizens whose premiums were paid by the national government,” they added.

They also claimed that OFWs were able to claim 1.7 billion in benefits and yet they have only collected a total of P1.02 billion.

“Last year, with a collection from OFWs amounting to P 1.02 Billion (comprising 0.7 percent of premiums from total collections), OFWs claimed P 1.7 Billion in benefits with 69 percent of claims attributed to their dependents in the country while 31 percent was claimed by overseas OFWs.”

Due to the difficult times that we are in due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PhilHealth managed to find a way to lessen the burden placed on the shoulders of each OFW. They created a flexible payment scheme to allow OFWs to settle their contribution for one year.

“As an agency of government, sensitive to the welfare and well-being of all Filipinos, PhilHealth commits to continue exploring means to soften and alleviate the impact of the premium rate increase, but it cannot change the Law.”

Source Manila Times 

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